Vodafone to trial fixed-line broadband service

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Vodafone to trial fixed-line broadband service

And TIO warns against scapegoating VHA for its mobile problems.

Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) has revealed plans to trial a fixed-line broadband service on the National Broadband Network.

The telco said it would contact customers in the mainland first release site of Armidale in Northern NSW to offer them free trials of the service.

VHA has previously indicated it was interested in harnessing NBN fibre for its nationwide network of base stations.

"The NBN trials are a great opportunity for us to learn more about how the NBN will complement our existing mobile network," chief executive Nigel Dews said today.

"We will also work with NBN Co to develop products and test the complementary nature of high-speed fibre as an interconnection point to support mobile transmission or base station access."

In other Vodafone news the Australian Communications and Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has warned telcos against scapegoating the telco for an unprecedented rise in telecommunications complaints referred to the industry's ombudsman.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) Simon Cohen said today that 59,532 new complaints were registered between January and March this year [pdf].

It represented a 31 percent quarter-on-quarter increase – the "busiest quarter for new TIO complaints on record".

"The sharp rise... points to a grim quarter for consumers," Cohen said.

Vodafone was singled out by the TIO as being a key contributor to the figures. Vodafone's customers made 14,670 new complaints to the TIO, up 96 percent from the previous quarter.

"The main reason for the continuing increase [in new complaints] has been complaints about Vodafone, and its well publicised mobile coverage and customer service issues," the TIO said in a newsletter.

However, the TIO indicated that Vodafone complaints were in decline again.

"New complaints against Vodafone were highest in January 2011, with some decrease recorded in February and then March 2011," the TIO stated.

New complaints lodged against Telstra rose 12.7 percent to 22,506. The incumbent saw new complaints about mobile services spike 18 percent quarter-on-quarter, while landline complaints rose 12 percent.

Optus' statistics were recorded against separate networks, mobile and broadband entities. Complaints against Optus Mobile rose 25.9 percent to 5,067. Complaints about Optus Broadband were up 19 percent.

Complaints against VHA (the Hutchison '3' brand) were up 58.6 percent to 5,913.

Corbin said that the telecommunications industry was without doubt "the worst industry to deal with [as a consumer] in this country."

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